Dr Emma Nicol

Mental Health And A.S.D Mentor

Disability and Wellbeing Services

Personal statement

Key research interests

Interaction design and Information Behaviour.

Current projects

Emma is currently a Research Associate investigating digital applications for young people who self-harm along with Diane Pennington of CIS and Stephen McCluskey of Health in Mind.


Emma is a member of the Strathclyde iSchool Research Group (SISRG) at CIS. https://www.strath.ac.uk/research/subjects/computerinformationscience/strathclydeischoolresearchgroup/


Emma is a researcher with 15 years of experience on a variety of projects funded by the EU, EPSRC, ESRC, HEA, NHS Scotland, Scottish Government and others, chiefly concerning the co-creation of interactive technology for education, health and wellbeing, and cultural settings, and has a particular interest in information access and literacy. 

Emma's research has involved a wide variety of stakeholders including young mothers, school children, university students, older adult learners and health and educational professionals. She has extensive experience of designing and running co-design activities with both children and adults to inform, for example, the development of interactive technology for mobile platforms and for public display screens and designed and undertaken evaluations of such technology both in the lab and in the wild.

Emma is author or co-author of 35+ refereed publications and has presented her findings to a variety of audiences, including at international conferences and workshops, NHS and Scottish Government events and to the general public at events such as Engage with Strathclyde. In recent years she was co-organiser of a workshop at the Interaction Design for Children conference on the roles that children can play in co-design activities, as well as co-editing a special journal issue on the same theme.

Emma has a keen interest in mental health and wellbeing and since 2007 has been supporting a number of students facing mental health challenges and students with autism as a mentor with the University of Strathclyde’s Wellbeing Service. She has been a facilitator of the university's mindfulness drop-in sessions since their establishment in 2015.



Developing health information literacy in disadvantaged and dependent circumstances : the everyday role of Family Nurses
Buchanan Steven, Nicol Emma
Sixth European Conference on Information Literacy (2018)
Developing health information literacy in disengaged at-risk populations : insights to inform interventions
Buchanan Steven, Nicol Emma
Journal of Documentation (2018)
Enhancing student transitions into engineering from underrepresented backgrounds
Switzer Christine, Nicol Emma, Bertram Douglas, Kenny Michael, Murray Michael, Ferguson Neil
13th Annual Enhancement Themes Conference (2016)
Enhancing transitions into civil engineering (EnTICE)
Nicol Emma, Switzer Christine, Bertram Douglas, Kenny Michael, Murray Michael, Ferguson Neil
13th Annual Enhancement Themes Conference (2016)
Special issue on reimagining interfaces for older adults
Nicol Emma, Dunlop Mark D, Treviranus Jutta
International Journal of Mobile Human Computer Interaction Vol 8, pp. v-x (2016)
Rethinking mobile interfaces for older adults
Charness Neil, Dunlop Mark, Munteanu Cosmin, Nicol Emma, Oulasvirta Antti, Ren Xiangshi, Sarcar Sayan, Silpasuwanchai Chaklam
ACM CHI 2016, pp. 1-4 (2016)

more publications


Empirical investigation & user-centred development of touch-screen text entry methods older adults
Dunlop, Mark (Principal Investigator) Komninos, Andreas (Researcher) Nicol, Emma (Researcher)
"Mobile technologies now have a considerable impact on work and social lives, for example it is estimated that over 25% of emails are now opened on mobiles. As the older working population rises, due to both aging population demographics and increasing retirement age, an increasing number of digital economy workers will require to use mobile technologies for work into their mid/late 60s.

The proposed European Accessibility Act aims to require goods and services that are seen as critical for the citizen to participate in society to be accessible to disabled and older people - this is likely to cover information and communication technologies including mobile phones. Age UK encourage the UK Government to support the act and state that the EU must ensure that the scope of the act is broad enough to cover the needs of older people.

Text entry is core to mobile interaction such as email, social networking, instant messaging and interacting with services such as web or map searching and thus it is increasingly important to people's participation in work and society. The majority of smartphones now do not have any physical keyboard but rely on on-screen touch keyboards. These have been shown to be slower and more error-prone than traditional mini-physical keyboards, but are popular as they permit full screen services and larger reading area.

While there have been numerous studies into text entry usage on touchscreens, there has been very little work studying the effects of aging on text entry, and none on modern touchscreen phones where reduced visual acuity, reduced motor control and reduced working memory are all likely to have an impact. Currently industry is focussed on targeting the current main market of younger users with any devices designed for older users being extremely simplified phones rather than powerful smartphones people are becoming accustomed to. Our initial studies have also shown that older users have considerable trouble with modern smartphones but may be willing to adopt new keyboard layouts and technologies to compensate for this.

In this project we will conduct a detailed investigation into text entry for older adults. We will build on our initial results and current prototype keyboards to conduct participatory design sessions with older users to identify key design criteria for older adult text entry. We will quantitatively measure touchscreen tapping times for different age groups and develop accidental tap filters to reduce errors. We will formally evaluate keyboards based on our findings to assess our hypothesis that older people can successfully use appropriately designed touch-screen text entry methods."
01-Jan-2013 - 30-Jan-2015

more projects


Disability and Wellbeing Services
Livingstone Tower

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